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Inside France's World Cup ceremony


France out to ride Antoine Griezmann's goals to the top of Group A

France face Albania, Romania and Switzerland in Group A. Here's a look at their squad and how they will fare at Euro 2016.

At a glance

Hosts France are expected to enjoy a deep run in their home tournament and despite a number of absentees, Les Bleus still boast plenty of talent.

Home view

French supporters are optimistic coming into this summer's European Championship.

Having seen their team reborn after fighting to narrowly qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Didier Deschamps' men are viewed with a new respect by a public that used to revile them.

Although Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema is creating distractions off the pitch after he was suspended for the foreseeable future because of his involvement in the Mathieu Valbuena controversy, things are going fairly well on the pitch.

Recent victories over the Netherlands and Russia got fans excited, while the 3-2 win over Cameroon earlier this week in Nantes in the first of two warm-up matches demonstrated just how strong France's following will be on home soil.

Although a few injuries to key players have knocked confidence a bit, supporters and journalists still believe that France can go a long way this month and next.

Star man

In a team brimming with exciting young talents, Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann is arguably France's brightest hope this summer.

The 25-year-old has emerged as a key player for Les Bleus under Deschamps and after being relatively inexperienced ahead of the World Cup in Brazil two years ago, the man from Macon has developed and matured a lot since then.

Although Juventus' Paul Pogba, West Ham United's Dimitri Payet and Manchester United's Anthony Martial all possess the ability to be the main man for the French, it is Griezmann who is viewed as the star turn for Deschamps' team.

Since being played through the middle by Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid, the former Real Sociedad star has become a prolific figure and his goals will be crucial to the hosts' hopes of easing out of a favourable Group A and reaching this Euro's final stages.

Antoine Griezmann with France
Antoine Griezmann will need to be productive if France are to make a deep run in front of the home fans at Euro 2016.

Potential pitfalls

Although France still boast a solid squad, a spate of recent withdrawals have weakened what was originally a very strong group.

Losing Real Madrid's Raphael Varane, Olympique de Marseille's Lassana Diarra and Barcelona's Jeremy Mathieu to injuries means that Deschamps has been deprived of two members of his likely starting XI for the opening group game against Romania at Stade de France.

In their current state, assuming that Les Bleus can avoid any further withdrawals, this group can still go very far this summer. However, if any other regulars drop out, then the French risk their chances of overall success taking a significant hit.

Deschamps' defence is already far from his first choice back four, with regulars Varane and Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho missing. Diarra's unavailability also means that the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000-winning former captain is without his first choice defensive midfielder.

The impact of Benzema's comments also has the potential derail the hosts' chances. After working so hard to create a balanced squad that is devoid of controversy, Deschamps' has seen a player he put so much faith in -- undeservedly at times -- stir up an unnecessary debate that will now dominate much of the focus on France until the tournament gets underway.

Predicted finish

France should be targeting a semi-final berth at least this summer. After failing to do themselves justice against eventual winners Germany in the Brazil quarterfinals back in 2014, Deschamps and his players must target going at least one step further on home soil.

If they can reach the last four, Les Bleus certainly have the quality to reach the final and perhaps even go all the way -- at that point it will depend on how the tournament has unfolded elsewhere. Potential latter stage clashes with the likes of Germany, England, Portugal and Austria sound daunting, but the hosts should fear nobody, and a soft Group A should mean that their confidence is high by the time they reach the business end of the tournament.

Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.


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